The G20 summit has drawn LGBTQ rights demonstrators to St. Petersburg and other cities around the world. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have urged world leaders to condemn Russia's anti-gay law, and several heads of state will reportedly do so. U.S. President Barack Obama is due to meet with LGBTQ rights groups during his time in St. Petersburg, according to Buzzfeed, while UK Prime Minister David Cameron will reportedly raise concerns over the anti-gay law at the G20 summit, reports Pink News.
However, anti-LGBTQ organizations have also released a homophobic statement to coincide with the G20 summit. The Madrid-based Profesionales Por La Ética and allied organizations issued a statement defending Russia's anti-gay law. "Statement by Worldwide Organizations in Support of the Russian Federal Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development" has been signed by 103 right-wing organizations worldwide, including several groups based in North America: Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Mission America, Real Women of Canada, and the World Congress of Families.
As a side note, several Islamic organizations also signed the statement, including the UK-based Islamic Medical Association and the Muslim Coordination to the Alliance for the Family. The presence of right-wing Christian and Islamic organizations among the signatories suggests that homophobic factions of different faiths are willing to collaborate against LGBTQ equality.
The statement depicts homosexuality as something harmful to minors, arguing that "children need special protection due to their innocence and immaturity". Furthermore, the statement ridicules LGBTQ equality as an example of "artificial and fabricated "values"" being "aggressively imposed" across the globe. Russia is depicted as the victim of a global controversy, suffering "heavy attack" as it supposedly strives to protect the "moral formation of children".
"We acknowledge that the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties. With its new law Russia is protecting genuine and universally recognized human rights against artificial and fabricated false "values" aggressively imposed in many modern societies. We also note that the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not outlined in the existing binding international treaties and agreements."In short, the statement rejects the idea of LGBTQ rights as human rights, refuses to acknowledge the validity of gender identity and sexual orientation, and casts homosexuality as a toxic influence on youth rather than a normal variation of human sexuality. The fact that the Russian law silences the Russian LGBTQ community, obstructs freedom of speech, and protects no one is never considered.
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American signatories to the Profesionales Por La Ética statement are more examples of Religious Right voices defending Russia's anti-gay law. As mentioned in a prior post, Bryan Fischer, Pat Buchanan, and NOM's William Owens have weighed in on the measure. Since then, even more U.S. Religious Right figures have praised the Russian law.
First, on August 30th, Scott Lively penned an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin, commending Russia for taking "a firm and unequivocal stand against this scourge by banning homosexualist propaganda in Russia." Calling LGBTQ rights a "destructive and degrading sexual agenda", Lively warned Putin that LGBTQ activists are allegedly "driven by an implacable militancy and a zeal to advance their own self-serving interests that rivals even the most fanatical religious cults." According to the letter, Lively sent Putin a copy of his inflammatory anti-gay book, The Pink Swastika.
Next. in a September 3rd press release, the World Congress of Families defended the Russian anti-gay law, calling it "a law designed to protect the health and morals of minors". Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families, argued that the law protects youth from the supposedly corrupting influence of LGBTQ adults. "It simply states that adults can't try to corrupt children by encouraging sexual experimentation which could have life-threatening consequences," he said in the press release. Jacobs insisted that the homophobic laws protects young people from the alleged health risks of homosexuality.
"All the law does is to prohibit advocacy aimed at involving minors in a lifestyle that would imperil their physical and moral health. Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has shown that sexually transmitted diseases, drug use and suicide rates are significantly higher among what it discreetly calls a 'sexual minority.' CDC data also demonstrates that there is much greater health risks among teenagers who practice homosexuality than those who do not engage in homosexual behavior."Finally, according to Right Wing Watch, Mission America's Linda Harvey applauded Russia's anti-gay law during her September 4th radio show. Calling LGBTQ rights supporters "sexual anarchists", she defended the Russian law as a means of protecting children from supposed lies.
"What responsible adult would have a problem with keeping kids on a path of high moral standards? Well, those who are very deceived themselves, apparently. In our country the sexual anarchists are whaling because Russian children and teens will not be allowed to hear homosexual propaganda. Children won’t be told, falsely, that some are born to be homosexual. They won’t be encouraged to declare themselves homosexual at age twelve or thirteen and label themselves for the rest of their school years. Russian children won’t be taught that they are victims of the mainstream, straight world, that they should develop deep resentments and hostiles and shouldn’t trust anything tradition-minded people say or do. The risks of same-sex relationships won’t be carefully hidden from them, as they are here, and they just might have healthier, more stable lives as a result.
They won’t be told that biblical moral standards are hateful and harmful; that abstinence until marriage is impossible and recommending it is discrimination; nor that sex as a young teen is perfectly normal, constructive and manageable with latex. They won’t learn that two men or two women should be seen as a married couple and that no one should ever blink an eye at the terms ‘her wife’ or ‘his husband.’ They won’t be taught that Jesus now suddenly accepts homosexuality and always did and that modern, enlightened theologians have discovered pro-homosexual meanings in Scripture that no one else did over several thousand years and that all those verses that call homosexuality sin really mean something else. In other words, the kids in Russia may get to live lives as kids and not be weighed down with adult agendas laced with adult deception."
Noticing a pattern? The Profesionales Por La Ética document, as well as statements from other Religious Right groups, promote destructive stereotypes about LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people are repeatedly demonized as threats to children, corrupting influences, and health hazards. For all their hollow language about protecting youth, homophobes refuse to acknowledge that some young people are LGBTQ and that Russia's homophobic laws do them real harm. The real threats to Russian youth are homophobic laws that curtail free speech, free flow of information, and social acceptance of sexual minorities.
The Religious Right is showing its true colors by praising Russia's anti-gay law, and I have no doubt that they will support similar draconian measures elsewhere. Supporters of LGBTQ equality around the globe need to demand LGBTQ equality and remind leaders that the far right does not speak for them.
(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)